E-scooter safety board calls for higher standards across sector

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An e-scooter safety group of leading charities and transport experts is calling for higher safety standards across the sector. In a new report, the group makes 10 recommendations for the e-scooter sector to follow in order to create a safer environment for pedestrians and road users.

To produce the report and recommendations, the safety group worked closely with London e-scooter operator TIER, reviewing local operations and examining safety data and practices that contributed to TIER recording zero accidents to customers or pedestrians in the first six months of operating. The collaboration – known as the TIER UK Safety Board – has worked on this report together with disabled people, including those with sight loss, across the UK. The recommendations in the report include the following:

  • The introduction of a 12.5mph speed limit on all e-scooters, including private models.
  • The requirement for operators to implement high-tech parking systems that do not rely solely on GPS, to improve parking accuracy and prevent e-scooters from becoming an obstacle.
  • The mandatory requirement for operators to adopt an acoustic vehicle alert (AVA) that is ethically tested before city deployment. The AVA need to safely alert pedestrians to e-scooters on streets.

In addition, the Board and TIER conducted a nationwide survey of Sight Loss Councils to gain a better understanding of key concerns amongst blind and partially sighted people when it comes to e-scooters. Almost all respondents (96%) were worried about e-scooters being silent and therefore very hard to detect, while three quarters said they feared obstructions from poorly parked e-scooters leading to trips and falls.

Working with TIER, the Safety Board has taken a robust approach to designing an AVA, undertaking research in consultation with leading experts in the field and Sight Loss Councils to create the most effective sound alert possible. Once the Board’s AVA has passed a rigorous process of controlled testing to ensure that it can deliver universal benefits to all pedestrians, it will be offered to the wider market for free.

“For the UK’s e-scooter trials to be successful, safety must be the priority,” says Fred Jones, chair of the TIER UK Safety Board for E-scooters. “We have listened to the concerns of disabled people, including blind and partially sighted individuals, and worked closely with our Safety Board members to begin shaping standards that can be adopted by the whole industry. It is right that e-scooter operators face scrutiny when it comes to issues such as speed and parking. By working with some of the biggest names in road safety and transport, we hope our recommendations can help to answer some of the major concerns people have. We look forward to working closely with the Safety Board to further these recommendations so that we can create a safer environment for all pedestrians and road users.”

“Ensuring that all types of transport work for all types of communities is central to our work at Transport for All,” says Kirsty Hoyle, CEO of Transport for All. “It has been great to be part of this team, developing the industry’s first fully inclusive safety report. The recommendations put forward are not difficult for operators to implement but will go a long way in instilling confidence into those who are wary of e-scooters entering the transport mix. As e-scooter trials expand across the country, it is important that we continue to scrutinise their presence and improve things where necessary.”

“The introduction of e-scooters into the transport mix comes with great opportunities, both in the short term as a Covid-friendly way of travel, and longer-term as a new sustainable form of getting around cities,” adds David Davies, executive director, PACTS. “But like with any new transport method, the safety of users, others on the road and pedestrians must be properly considered and this needs to be a collaborative process with different communities of people. I’m very excited about the progress being made by the TIER UK Safety Board report and believe that the inclusive and thoughtful approach we’ve taken to explore issues around e-scooter safety can play an important role in improving the sector. I hope that other operators will take note of our recommendations and create a safer environment for e-scooters.”

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Lauren is acting associate editor for Traffic Technology International and freelance journalist. Over the past 15 years, she has worked on a wide variety of B2B publications and websites, including a stint as deputy editor of Traffic Technology International from 2014-2016. She has a degree in English from the University of Exeter. Lauren is mum two busy little girls. She is always in demand!